By Jeremiah Yolkut, USTA Quad Team
–The U.S. Quad Team kicked off the 2010 IWTC for team USA as it took on South Africa in the first round-robin tie of the event.
Nick Taylor, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, played No. 2 singles for Team USA and started the tie off with pure dominance. Taylor matched up against South African upstart Steven Kekai in the first match of the day. While Kekai started with a veteran’s swagger, his youth quickly appeared. Taylor broke his serve in the first game and didn’t look back, taking the next five games of the first set without a problem. The second set was much of the same as Taylor dispatched Kekai 6-0 to take the first match of the tie.
With a little bit pressure taken off by Taylor’s win, David Wagner faced Lucas Sithole in the second match of the day. No. 2 in the world, Wagner came out on fire taking a 3-0 lead in the first set and handily controlling the opener on way to a 6-1 rout of Sithole. In the second set it was more of the same as Wagner’s shot placement was on target keeping the ball everywhere Sithole wasn’t. Wagner looked cool, calm, and collected as he defeated the tough South African and took the set 6-0 and the first quad tie of the tournament for Team USA.
Taylor and Wagner completed the sweep of the South Africans in doubles 6-0, 6-1 to cap off a great start for the No. 1 seeded team.
The Quad team will play Italy on Tuesday. USA vs. South Africa
Nick Taylor vs. Steve Kekai
David Wagner vs. Lucas Sithole
David Wagner and Nick Taylor vs. Lucas Sithole and Steve Kekai
6-0, 6-0 Women’s Recap
The U.S. women were next as they too faced South Africa in their first tie of the week. Dana Mathewson led the charge as the No. 2 singles player and faced Refilwe Mokesti in her 2010 debut. It was a slow go for Mathewson as she wasn’t pushing to her full potential early, but her speed awoke up as the set progressed. She took the first set 6-1 and copied her recipe for success taking the second set with a similar style of finesse and speed, 6-2.
Emmy Kaiser took the court next as she faced Kgothatso Montjone in her first singles match of the tournament. Kaiser came out tentative allowing Montjone to cruise to a quick 3-6 win in the first. The second set offered a little more drama as the South African continued to keep Kaiser a bit off her game, but ultimately fell 7-6 (6), forcing a match tie-break. In the tie-break Kaiser jumped out to an early 3-0 lead using her backhand slice to stave off the pesky Montjone. After getting to 5-2 it seemed Kaiser had finally fended off her talented rival, but Montjone found her remedy for Kaiser closing her out 7-5 in the third and forcing a deciding doubles match.
Mathewson and Soldan showed their strong team mentality as they started off the set rattling off four straight games and showing South Africa just how strong the U.S. women’s doubles team is. As Antalya grew darker the U.S. women quickly finished the day’s tie with a straight sets victory over next year’s IWTC hosts, 6-2, 6-2.
The women will play Great Britain on Tuesday. USA vs. South Africa
Dana Mathewson vs. Refilwe Mokesti
Emmy Kaiser vs. Kgothasto Montjone
Dana Mathewson and Emmy Kaiser vs. Kgothatso Montjone and Rosalea Van Der Meer
6-2,6-2 Junior Team
The juniors capped off the day with a friendly battle with Great Britain. While the British were missing their two best players, the U.S. was missing one of its favorites in veteran Dylan Levine, who did not make the trip due to injury.
First up was Ryan Nelson, the crafty youngster from Salt Lake City, Utah who took on Alfie Hewett from Team GB. Hewett who troubled the Americans last year was at it again until Nelson held his ground in the first set taking a 3-2 lead. Nelson waivered a bit allowing his British friend to weave his way back into the match and knotting up the set at 5-5. It wasn’t long before Hewitt used his heavier serve to finish of Nelson taking the first set 7-5.
In the second set Nelson showed his vast improvement since his debut in 2009. After falling behind 1-4 he fought back and knotted up the set at 4-4. He seemed relaxed and calm after his quick comeback and ready to force a third set, but Hewett had other plans finishing off the rising U.S. star 6-4 and taking the first match of tie.
It would be up to team Captain Mackenzie Soldan to save the U.S. from a quick loss as she encountered British No. 1, Josh Steels. Soldan came out on fire thrashing her way to a 6-0 victory. Her over-powering serve and ground strokes rocked the young British junior and had him bewildered. In the second set she started a little drained from her opening set performance, but quickly bounced back coming from behind in the tie-break and taking the second set 7-6(6).
The juniors headed for the deciding doubles looking to ride the momentum of a strong singles win by Soldan. The duo came out a bit sluggish as the day’s tennis began to take its toll on their bodies in a darkening Antalya. While they fought valiantly against the British tandem, Soldan and Nelson did not have enough, dropping the match 3-6, 4-6.
Although the loss hurts, the U.S. team will look to rebound against first time IWTC attendees Iraq on Tuesday. USA vs. Great Britain
Ryan Nelson vs. Alfie Hewett
Mackenzie Soldan vs. Josh Steels
Ryan Nelson and Mackenzie Soldan vs. Alfie Hewett and Josh Steels
3-6,4 -6 Men’s Team
The Men’s team did not play on Monday, but will kick off their 2010 IWTC against Israel on Tuesday.